Interview with Demi, contributor to Kids on the Edge: Troubled Girls

The last episode of Kids on the Edge tells the stories of two teenage girls who have repeatedly harmed themselves, and shows the support they receive from Tavistock clinicians. One of them, Demi, 17, reveals more about her experiences filming the programme.

You appear in C4’s new documentary about self-harming and mental health issues among girls. Can you explain a bit about your story? My story – where do I start? It starts off with the most traumatic thing in my life, which was me losing my mum. So the programme looks at how that affected me. I’ve been a risk to myself in the past, I’ve tried to take my life and things like that. So that’s all shown, along with the scars, which are the consequences of my self harm. I guess I have a tiny bit of a breakdown through the series. So that is captured, and also how quickly I recovered, I guess, which is a good thing.

How did you come to get involved with the Tavistock and Portman foundation? Things had started to get a lot worse for me in that I started to get really depressed from the age of 15 or 16. It became clear that I needed a team very desperately, and after my first in patient unit, they referred me to a psychiatrist at the Tavistock. I’ve been with them since I was 16.

How did you hear about the film, and why did you want to take part in it? I heard about it from Alex, my psychiatrist, who said “You’re an outgoing person, you speak quite brightly, I’d like you to take part in this because I think it’s something you could benefit from.” So I looked into it a bit more, and I thought to myself “This is actually a pretty good thing.” Considering I don’t open to a lot of people, because I’m quite closed, this has really helped my family out, and other people at the same time. There’s a lot of people that have similar problems, and if they see that people can talk about certain things and not get judged, and see all the comments and the positivity from the programme, then they might feel a bit more encouraged. I want to offer support to other people going through stuff like that.

What was it like, having cameras following you around? How did you find the experience? It was really awkward at first, because I’m not a camera person. But you soon get used to it. Obviously Tim and Sophie became like a little buddy family – I’d meet up with them every week to talk about things. It made me a bit more open about myself, having cameras around. It made me look back on myself and think “I really need to sort my stuff out.” And since then, I’ve been really quite stable. When you see yourself like that, it maybe gives you a bit of a reality check.

Have you seen the film? I have.

What did you think of it? It made me feel a bit emotional, but I was so excited about it as well. When it came to the most emotional parts, I’m someone who doesn’t really reflect on myself, so as I say, it’s really made me think. I watched it with a friend, and she looked at me, and she nearly cried. It’s an amazing end product. I love it.

What would you say to other teenagers who are out there self-harming? It depends on where they’re at. If they’ve just started self-harming then you can obviously warn them about it and give them the facts, because it’s a game at first, it really is. But it can become more dangerous, very dangerous, where people will desire to do more serious things to themselves. And the more that happens, the more their life is in danger. I remember when I first started, it was literally like cat scratches, and now it’s at the point where I might need stitches sometimes. You don’t see the comparison, because you see it every day. But young people going through that, it’s not for anyone to tell them to stop. You can’t tell someone to stop, because it makes them want to do it more. They have to want to stop. You can give them warnings, but there’s not a lot you can do unless they really want to stop.

Who do you turn to when things get rough? I think now, I mostly turn to the staff at my house. I used to turn to young people who weren’t really capable of taking in the information that I was telling them. That got me into all sorts of trouble, and it just wasn’t fair. Think now, I’m more open and I’ll let myself talk to adults who are able to help. I see them day-in, day-out, so it means you make a real connection with them. They’re my main network, they’re like my guardians, even though I do have family. They’ve seen me in worse situations than anyone has, so I trust them. Has making this programme been a positive experience for you? It sounds like you’re in a pretty good place?

I am in a pretty good place right now. This is, in all honesty, the first year in a few years that I haven’t been admitted to a psychiatric ward at this time of year. I normally have to spend Christmas in a psychiatric unit. So this will be the first time in a few years that I’ll have Christmas out.

What would your dream for your future be? I hope to get some kind of certificate, so that I can train in psychology and work with young people in the future. I’ve met a lot of care workers in the past, and I can see some of them do it because it’s a job they love, and some of them do it for money. It’s something I love, and I know that will help me connect more with the younger people – the fact that I’m doing it to hel other people, not just for money.

Kids on the Edge: Troubled Girls is on Channel 4 on Wednesday 30th November at 10pm.

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November 30, 2016 5:28am ET by Newsdesk  

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